What does 'Settlement Cracks' mean when buying a property?

Find out what Settlement Cracks means when you are buying a property. 'What does Settlement Cracks mean?' plus over 150 other property related terms and jargon in plain English

Settlement Cracks

This can refer to both new and old properties. With new properties the cracks are only visible inside the property with cracks appearing in the plaster as the block settles. Cracks less than 1-3mm wide are quite normal.

On period properties settlement cracks can be much wider (over 1 cm) and can also be caused by subsidence or heave so its important to know the exact cause. Cracks can be clearly visible on the interior and exterior walls.

If the cause of the cracks is of no concern (such as normal annual movement of the property up and down then the cracks on the exterior walls should be filled to make sure the property does not suffer penetrating damp.

Note a large crack on a period property may not be serious as it can relate to movement decades ago. If in doubt ask a structural engineer to inspect.

To learn everything you need to know about property movement and other issues that may come up when purchasing a property pick up a copy of my ebook How to Really Buy a Property.

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"... surveyors should never estimate the cost of works; When rising damp, penetrating damp, subsidence, cracking, sagging roofs, bulging walls and all the other frightening things in a surveyor's report might be serious, and when they are not; Why asking the vendor to carry out work is not..."

"... it can be too time consuming to check some of the most common work. Let's take an example of penetrating damp found underneath a window which is coming from a crack between the outside brickwork and the window frame. The work to fill in the crack might cost £200 so you would feel confident in asking the vendor to put it right. But he hires a cheap builder who uses low quality materials and provides a receipt confirming the work is done. It may have been done to such a standard that you will have to undo and redo the work yourself at some stage in the near..."

"... get side tracked by these irrelevancies. Feedback from viewings and honest advice are far, far better. The agent knows none of them are particularly effective but they know the vendor thinks they are. In the meantime they crack on with registering active buyers and trying to match them to your property...."

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